The “Aha!” Moment: The Impact of Activity-Based Learning on Conceptual Understanding
It is a grade 4 Math class in an XSEED school. Students are trying to figure out how to make the greatest and smallest 5-digit number with paper cut-outs of the numbers 3,8,5,9 and 1. Each is trying a different combination. Suddenly a few students exclaim that they have cracked the problem! The greatest digit is 98531 and the smallest is 13589. “We realised that if we arrange the numbers in descending order, we can make the greatest 5-digit number and if we arrange them in ascending order, we can make the smallest 5-digit number.”
That was the “Aha!” moment – the moment when students learned a concept on their own while performing an activity. Unlike many classrooms, XSEED classrooms allow students to reach an “Aha” moment on their own, as the “activity” is integral to the 5-step learning process.
As they say, you cannot learn to ride a bicycle by watching someone else ride a bicycle. In the same way, children too need to be actively engaged in class to understand concepts better. Activity-based learning methods engage students physically and mentally. This helps build conceptual understanding. Several educational researches have proven that activity-based learning is more effective than the lecture method of learning. When students are engaged in an activity, they often reach an “Aha!” moment by figuring out things by themselves.
Here are some interesting stories of “Aha!” moments derived through activities in XSEED classrooms.
- Students had to place cards of the same size with a hole in the middle before a lighted candle. They had to arrange the cards in such a way so that they could see the candle light through the holes at the same time. After many trials, students discovered that when the cards are arranged in a straight line, they could see the light of the candle. This helped them understand that light travels in a straight line.
- Students were given 3 similar containers and some water. They had to prove that pressure inside the liquid increases with depth. They tried making holes in different positions in the containers and filled it with water to see how water flows from each. When some students made 3 vertical holes – from top to bottom, they compared the water flow in each. That was when they could prove that the pressure was the maximum at the bottom of the container.
- Students were given cut outs of angles. They had to prove that the sum of the angles is equal to 180 degrees. They tried arranging the cut outs in different ways. Finally, they realised that only when the corners of the angles are put together and arranged in a straight line, they could get 180 degrees!
Activity based learning encourages children to be inquisitive while also building creativity and problem-solving skills.
Do you have interesting stories to share with us from your classroom experiences? We would be happy to know more about the “Aha!” moments that your students have experienced.